I’ve been writing and talking about Fall River politics for 25 years. I’m not complaining about that, either. It’s how I buy food, and pants, and a place to live.
And breakfast in diners.
It’s hard to know me (for a lot of reasons) without knowing that I like to eat breakfast in diners the way some people like to watch baseball. It’s a simple hobby. It’s cheap, and the only things you need are time, appetite, and in Fall River, maybe $12 cash. I usually have $12 cash on me, thanks to good old politics, the payer of my bills for a quarter century.
Friday, I sat in a diner with a ham and Swiss cheese omelet in front of me. Behind me, over my left shoulder, a television mounted on wall brackets sent the voice of President Donald Trump out into the warm air of the diner. I looked out the window and watched it rain while the country spun patriotically toward fascism.
The omelet started to taste just a little sawdust-y. Not the cook’s fault.
Still, like most residents of small, unfashionable places, I can pretend the president doesn’t exist. Like Rulo, Nebraska, King Street in Fall River can be seen as a refuge from the big stuff, though King Street couldn’t hide when Chinese competition shut down Quaker Fabric.
The recent troubles of Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia are, if not the big stuff, then at least a mirror of the big stuff.
Faced with 13 federal indictments, Correia concentrates on “fake news,” on the investigation being “politically motivated,” though it’s hard to see Ken Fiola calling the FBI and ordering an investigation the way you’d order Chinese food. People in Fall River think that happened because people in Fall River believe that anyone involved in Fall River city government is hugely powerful. The rest of America doesn’t know where Fall River is, but people who live here think minor, local bureaucrats can move the needle on a national level.
In addition to the notion of fake news and politically motivated investigations, Correia continues to point to his record as mayor, although getting indicted 13 times by the feds is probably the biggest thing he’s ever done.
Let’s see. Some weedy plants were installed on Purchase Street, and the mayor was indicted 13 times. Which one is more important? The FBI, I might add, probably doesn’t know about the plants. If they did, they’d probably back off the whole thing. Who wouldn’t?
I put a little hot sauce in the omelet, and let Trump’s voice go over my head.
In Fall River, a fairly large number of people are continuously unhappy that the city is known for Lizzie Borden.
“That’s what we’re known for?” they squeak furiously. “Why aren’t we known for the bakery at the end of my street, or the Battleship, or the city’s 50 Portuguese restaurants, or a waterfront that greatly resembles a lot of waterfronts?”
With the story of Correia’s indictment in newspapers all over the country, Fall River is finally known for something other than the Borden murders. How do you feel? Better or worse?
I’m no tarot card reader, but, if we re-elect a mayor under indictment, that will make national news, and if he eventually goes to federal prison and starts taking showers with maniacs, that will make national news.
If that happens, the city will come out from under the long shadow of Lizzie Borden, and we will become known as a grimy little place with a real talent for electing the wrong people. We always knew we had a talent for electing the wrong people, but at least no one was paying attention.
I suppose I should hope that doesn’t happen, and I guess I do. I would like to eat future omelets in a sadness-free diner, although with the way things are going nationally and locally, there’s a good chance the TV over my left shoulder will continue ruining my omelets for some time to come.